More than 3800 to graduate at Spring Convocation June 17-20

More than 3800 students will receive certificates and diplomas June 17-20 as Niagara College celebrates its Spring Convocation Ceremonies.

The ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

“Convocation is the highlight of our academic year” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson. “It celebrates the success of our students as they move on to the next phase of their lives whether it’s a successful career or another step on their educational journey. These are the highly-skilled graduates will drive the future success of our key industries and sectors and contribute to all corners of our society.”

The graduates will hear from an impressive list of distinguished business and community leaders and high-profile personalities who will deliver convocation addresses and receive special honours from the College. This year’s speakers and honourees include:

June 17:

  • 10 a.m. Mike Watt executive vice president Walker Industries recipient of an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Studies;
  • 3 p.m. Len Crispino retired president and CEO Ontario Chamber of Commerce and owner The Foreign Affair Winery recipient of an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Studies.

June 18

  • 10 a.m. Dr. Kevin Smith CEO Niagara Health System and president and CEO St. Joseph’s Health System recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Health Studies;
  • 3 p.m. Katherine Chislett commissioner Niagara Region Community Services recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Community Services;
  • 3 p.m. Ron Romeo of St. Catharines a graduate of the Social Service Worker program will receive the Governor General’s Academic Medal;
  • 3 p.m. Lillian Montour education advocate and chair Niagara College Aboriginal Education Management Circle recipient of the Niagara Award.

June 19

  • 10 a.m. Christina Milan vice chair Niagara Industrial Association and founder MBS Quality Consultants will receive an Honorary Diploma in Technology Studies;
  • 3 p.m. Michael Smith celebrity chef Food Network Host will receive an Honorary Diploma in Culinary Arts.

June 20

  • 10 a.m. Bill Blair chief of the Toronto Police Service will receive an Honorary Diploma in Justice Studies;
  • 3 p.m. Paul Lemieux host MUCH will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences advanced technology media applied health and community safety supported by unique learning enterprises in food wine beer horticulture and esthetics.


Note to editors: Bios attached.

Media inquiries please contact:

Michael Wales
Senior Communications Officer
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7773
Cell: 905.328.4101

Julie Greco
Communications Specialist
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7368
Cell: 905.328.2532


TUESDAY JUNE 17 2014 10 AM

Guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Studies
Mike Watt Executive Vice President Walker Environmental Group Inc.

Michael Watt is a professional engineer and executive vice president of the Walker Environmental Group based in Niagara Falls. He is responsible for the Walker portfolio of environmental businesses. His specialization is in P3 (public-private partnerships) mainly with municipalities and strategic joint ventures. As well as the landfill recycling and trucking division he has successfully grown new businesses in compost and bio-solids processing green energy from landfill gas industrial development water treatment and emissions credit trading.

As executive vice president of Walker Environmental Group Watt has developed nine separate companies within Walker Environmental Group and joint ventures dealing specifically with several new business areas including landfill gas utilization and renewable energy water and waste water design/ build biosolids management power generation from landfill gas and industrial land development.

Aside from his commitment to Walker Environmental Group Watt serves as chair of One Foundation for Niagara Health System the recent merger of Niagara’s Hospital Foundations as well as past chair of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. He is currently on the Board of Directors for YMCA of Niagara and Ontario Waste Management Association.

TUESDAY JUNE 17 2014 3 pm

Our guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Bachelor of Applied Studies
Len Crispino Retired President and CEO Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Owner The Foreign Affair Winery

Len Crispino served as president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce between 2002 and early 2012. Representing the interests of more than 60000 Ontario businesses he worked tirelessly to build a stronger chamber network through change management.

Crispino has served as assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and as the president and chief executive officer of the Ontario International Trade Corporation and subsequently Ontario Exports Inc. from 1993 to 2002.

For three years he served as the province’s chief trade representative to Italy promoting Ontario’s trade and investment interests and was awarded the Order of Merit from the Italian government for fostering business ties between Canada and Italy. For several years he was responsible for assisting Ontario small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) entering international trade markets.

Crispino’s experience extends beyond the public service. He and his wife Marisa own and operate The Foreign Affair Winery an innovative estate winery that was the first in Canada to produce exclusively amarone (appassimento) styled wines. The winery has received major accolades for its focus and its responsive innovative approaches in the wine sector and for creating a new offering to the international marketplace. Recently the winery received the Premier’s Award for Innovation for its pioneering work in appassimento wines in Canada.

Crispino holds a professional ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors at the Rotman School. He has an MBA (Marketing) from York University and a master’s degree and BA from the University of Toronto.

He is a corporate director on the Board of Automodular Corporation a publicly traded Canadian company. His past contribution has also included lending his expertise in governance as chair of the Niagara College Board of Governors as well as chair of Priorities and Planning Committee and Chair of the Presidential Evaluation Committee. He was also a member of the Advisory Board of the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto director of the Council of the Americas co-chair of the William Osler Health Centre Foundation Board past chair of Seneca International a member of the Governor General’s Study Group on private sector financing as well as a number of other organizations. He was also selected as one of 10 mentors from across Canada for international Scholars in the Trudeau Foundation.


Our guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Health Studies
Dr. Kevin P.D. Smith President and CEO St. Joseph’s Health System; CEO Niagara Health System

Kevin P. D. Smith PhD is president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System and CEO of the Niagara Health System.
Smith holds an appointment as associate professor in the Department of Medicine Faculty of Health Sciences McMaster University.

Educated in Canada the United States and Great Britain he began his career in medical education followed by leadership roles in university administration and academic hospitals and health systems.

Smith’s continuing education has focused on governance in the public and private sectors. He is professionally certified by the Institute of Corporate Directors and has completed the Harvard Program in Effective Governance.

He is a frequent advisor to governments at home and abroad and is chair of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Home Capital Group.


Our guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Community Services
Katherine Chislett Commissioner Community Services Niagara Region

Katherine Chislett joined Niagara Region as Commissioner of Community Services in 2011. Community Services is the department responsible for social assistance and employment opportunities homelessness services eight long-term care homes and services for seniors living at home and for children’s services including five directly operated childcare centres.
She previously held the position of director of Housing and Homelessness Initiatives for the City of Toronto for seven years. Her portfolio often included street outreach services homelessness drop-ins housing help and eviction prevention projects homelessness employability projects and health and aboriginal homelessness strategies.

She has also worked as an urban planner. Chislett spent many days as an expert witness at the Ontario Municipal Board defending affordable rental housing from demolition and helped write Toronto’s official plan policies for housing.
Chislett has also worked for the Ontario government. After graduating from Western University with a master’s degree in Geography she worked in rent regulation in Northern Ontario and then moved her family south to work in land development and social housing.

Throughout her career Chislett has been strongly committed to helping people have homes they can afford and the best opportunities possible as well as protecting the rights of our most vulnerable citizens.

Lillian Montour Education advocate Chair Niagara College Aboriginal Education Management Circle
Recipient of the Niagara Award

Lillian Montour is a lifelong resident of the Six Nations of the Grand River territory. She is a member of the Delaware Nation and a strong proponent of lifelong education whose lifetime of community involvement and service has enhanced the lives of those in her community and beyond.

Montour’s contributions focus on building a stronger and healthier Six Nations community while maintaining positive relationships with other communities. Although widowed at a young age she raised her family to have a strong work ethic and community spirit by being a role model to her children and others.

For more than 60 years Montour has participated in a broad range of community activities. Her contributions to the Six Nations community include voluntary membership in the Six Nations Brass Band Women’s Institute; Fair Board; Library Board; the Board of St Luke’s and St Peter’s Churches; the Health Foundation; Anglican Church Women’s group and the Peatson Fund that provides funding for education activities. In Brant County she has served with the Brant County Historical Society and Museum. Montour joined the Grand River Post Secondary Education Board in 1996.

As the longest-serving chair of the Niagara College’s Aboriginal Education Management Circle Montour has brought strong aboriginal traditions and values into every meeting or gathering. Under her leadership the aboriginal student population at Niagara College has tripled and many partnerships have been created with aboriginal schools and organizations that continue today. She also oversaw the design and building of a seven-acre on- campus aboriginal garden and helped to establish the first-ever annual Harvest Garden which remain as integral parts of Niagara College’s program-related curriculum.

Ron Romeo graduate Social Service Worker and recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Medal

Ron Romeo is this year’s recipient of the prestigious academic medal awarded by the Governor General of Canada. Romeo graduates from the Social Service Worker program with a 97.95% grade point average.

The 43-year-old St. Catharines resident returned to Niagara College in 2013 after working in broadcasting and the entertainment and gaming industries for more than 20 years. Romeo also studied in Niagara College’s Broadcasting: Radio Television and Film program from 1989-92.

A desire to pursue a career where he can enhance the lives of others drew Romeo to Niagara College’s Social Service Worker program. Through this program he completed successful placements at the Brain Injury Community Re-entry and the Multiple Sclerosis Society both in St. Catharines.

Following graduation Romeo plans to pursue a career where he can help people to live independently in the community. A husband and father Romeo hopes that his career experiences will help his young daughter understand and appreciate the value of community service.

The Governor General’s Academic Medal

Lord Dufferin Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation created the Academic Medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over the years they have become the most prestigious awards that students in Canadian schools can receive.

For more than 125 years the Governor General’s Academic Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to the student graduating with the highest average from a high school as well as from approved college or university programs. Pierre Trudeau Tommy Douglas Kim Campbell Robert Bourassa Robert Stanfield and Gabrielle Roy are just some of the more than 50000 people who have received the Governor General’s Academic Medal marking the beginning of their lives of accomplishment.

Today the Governor General’s Academic Medals are awarded at four distinct levels: Bronze at the secondary school level; Collegiate Bronze at the post-secondary diploma level; Silver at the undergraduate level; and Gold at the graduate level. Medals are presented on behalf of the Governor General by participating educational institutions along with personalized certificates signed by the Governor General. There is no monetary award associated with the Medal.



Our guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Technology Studies
Christina Milan Vice Chair and Treasurer Niagara Industrial Association; Founder MBS Quality Consultants

Christina Milan holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics as well as an honours degree in Finance and Accounting from Brock University. It was there that Milan discovered her passion for business and she quickly began her career in 1985 at Acres International where she was responsible for the implementation and administration of international projects for the Canadian International Development Agency World Bank and Asian Development Bank. With a commitment to lifelong learning she obtained her certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.

With her CMA designation she worked as a controller in Hamilton for four years and then engaged in her largest challenge ever in 1990 – the creation and management of an international start-up company Napier Enterprises. As a business partner Milan took a concept (placing a tent on the back of vehicle) and created a demand in the market place. The Sportz tents were advertised and sold around the world. During the next 20 years the company grew to a multi-million dollar enterprise.

In 2002 Milan became a sought-after expert for her broad manufacturing background in business management and international business development. In 2007 she took her passion for business to the next level by starting her own consulting company MBS Quality Consultants. She obtained her certified management consultant (CMC) designation and is now consulting for businesses in the Niagara region and the GTA in the design implementation and evaluation of quality management systems in the manufacturing (ISO 9001 and TS16949) environmental (ISO14001) and medical (ISO13485) sectors.

Also in 2007 Milan joined a group of manufacturers that started the Niagara Industrial Association (NIA) and serves as treasurer. As a volunteer she helped the association grow from a handful of dedicated members to more than 180 members and served as its chair from 2011 to 2013. Today the NIA is an important voice in the community representing the unique needs of Niagara manufacturers. The NIA continues to work closely with the Region local EDOs and chambers of commerce.

Milan grew up and currently resides in St. Catharines. She enjoys every opportunity to spend quality time with her husband Paul and her two daughters Sarah and Paulina. She is an avid cyclist and has competed in the Big Move Cancer Ride for the past four years. Christina lives every day to its fullest and believes that by giving back to the community we all become stronger.

Thursday JUNE 19 2014 3 PM

Our guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Culinary Arts
Michael Smith Food Network Host Nutritional Activist Food Media Producer

Chef Michael Smith one of Canada’s best-known chefs is a passionate advocate for simple sustainable home cooking and an inspiration for families creating their own healthy food lifestyle. He’s the host of Chef Michael’s Kitchen Chef Abroad and Chef at Home seen on Food Network Canada Global and in more than 100 other countries. He’s a judge on Chopped Canada and travels around the world for his innovative new web series Lentil Hunter.

Smith is Prince Edward Island’s food ambassador Canada’s best-selling cookbook author teacher professional chef and home cook. He led the team of Sodexo chefs that cooked for the world’s Olympians in the Whistler Athletes Village in 2010. His eighth cookbook Family Meals hits the stands this fall. His food media production company is breaking new ground online and on Twitter he’s Canada’s top choice for foodie fun.

Although Smith is a true chef at large his favourite role is dad home on Prince Edward Island with his wife Chastity and children. Smith is an avid map collector long-time windsurfer and novice kite sailor.

FRIDAY JUNE 20 2014 10 AM

Our guest speaker and recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Justice Studies
William Blair Chief of Police Toronto Police Service

William Blair was appointed Chief of the Toronto Police Service on April 26 2005. The Toronto Police Service employs over 5500 police officers and 2200 civilian employees. It is the largest municipal police service in Canada and one of the largest in North America.

Chief Blair started his 35-plus year policing career as a beat officer in downtown Toronto and worked in drug enforcement organized crime units and major criminal investigations. Promoted to the senior ranks his postings included divisional commander Community Policing Programs and Detective Operations responsible for all specialized investigative units. As Toronto’s chief of police he has overseen the development of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) to combat violent crime.

Chief Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto in Economics and Criminology (1981) a Certificate in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of Toronto (1983) and a Certificate in Criminal Justice from the University of Virginia (1990). He is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy (1990) the Police Leadership Program of the University of Toronto Rotman School of Business Management (2002) and the National Executive Institute (2006). Chief Blair lectures at the University of Toronto and at the Rotman School of Management and he has also taught courses at Seneca College.

Chief Blair has taken a leadership role in provincial national and international policing realms. His involvement includes the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP); the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario (CISO); the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU); the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) the Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Major City Chiefs Associatio,

Chief Blair is very active in community organizations and served from 2008 to 2010 as the chair of the United Way Public Sector Campaign. He has also served on several boards and committees including Covenant House Toronto the Patron’s Council for Community Living Toronto Scouts Canada and others. He is an Honorary Governor of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires and recipient of the 2011 Beth Sholom Humanitarian Award.
In recognition of his many contributions to the policing profession Chief Blair was named an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in 2007 and in May 2012 he was appointed Commander of the Order. He is also a member of the Most Venerable Order of St. John and has been awarded the Police Exemplary Service Medal with Thirty Year Bar.

FRIDAY JUNE 20 2014 3 PM

Our guest speaker and recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award
Paul Lemieux Host MUCH

Getting his start as an intern at MTV Paul Lemieux spent hours transcribing tapes as a production assistant before making the jump to on-air personality and ultimately a MTV reporter.

Having become a regular fixture on MTV Live in 2006 and on MTV Showtown in 2013 Lemieux is the guy who never shies away from a dare or brazen bit. As a result he’s pulled off some of the most insane disgusting and downright hilarious stunts on the series including getting shot with a paintball gun by Mark Wahlberg applying to be P. Diddy’s assistant by submitting a video- application which appeared on CNN and Oprah and eating 41 Oreos in one sitting. His unique interviews titled One On One With Paul Lemieux feature Hollywood A-listers including the Jonas Brothers Ke$ha and Jersey Shore cast members Ronnie and JWoww have even earned him critical acclaim from the likes of Perez Hilton.

Since joining Bell Media Paul has interviewed an array of personalities including Tom Cruise Jason Segal Paul Rudd Shia LaBoeuf Johnny Knoxville Kelly Clarkson and Colin Greenwood from his all-time favourite band Radiohead. Lemieux has also worked as a street correspondent interviewing random locals at events across Canada and has travelled all over the world for MTV including Iceland and Mexico as well as Miami for the Victoria Secret fashion show.

Raised in St. Catharines Lemieux obtained his diploma in Broadcasting: Radio Television and Film from Niagara College where he won an award for best directed Media Releases magazine show Inside Niagara. Lemieux is a music junkie with an impressive record collection; he can recite any episode of The Simpsons and is a baseball nut with season tickets to Toronto Blue Jays games.